The following is an excerpt from 'Countdown to Socialism' by Devin Nunes.
I live in central California’s San Joaquin Valley, a lush agricultural region that’s home to the most productive land anywhere. We feed a lot of the country, and in fact, a lot of the world.
But due to a lack of water, the region is naturally a desert. It became the breadbasket of the solar system through the construction of the world’s most sophisticated irrigation system, comprising pumping stations, aqueducts, pipelines, and storage facilities. This network takes water originating in the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, stores it, and transports it widely for use by California’s 40 million residents.
For decades, this system has been targeted by radical environmentalists who want to drive farmers away and return the land to its natural, desert condition. This is characteristic of the socialists’ environmental extremism, in which the overall goal is to impose population controls.
Citing as a pretext the supposed need to protect a three-inch baitfish called the Delta smelt, environmental organizations filed a succession of lawsuits beginning in the 1990s that forced the state to divert billions of gallons of water away from farmers and families and dumping it into the Pacific Ocean. Over the years, the crisis worsened due to environmentalists’ opposition to new water storage projects and restrictions on groundwater pumping implemented by former Governor Jerry Brown.
As a result, the San Joaquin Valley is ensnared in a years-long water crisis. Two-hundred-fifty thousand acres of productive land have been idled, and a million acres in total—one-third of the Valley’s farmland, an area bigger than the state of Rhode Island—will have to be abandoned if the current trajectory continues. The crisis has created high unemployment in the Valley and a host of other social ills as the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people—many of them farmworkers—have been ripped away.
Beholden to the environmental lobby, Democrats in Congress have blocked passage of countless Republican bills to alleviate the water crisis. President Trump, however, became the first president in decades to take action, ordering reforms to the biological opinions that formed the basis of the environmentalists’ most damaging court actions. Issued in early 2020, the new opinions would resolve a big part of the problem and significantly increase the water supply. Shockingly, California’s governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, filed a lawsuit to cancel the opinions that would ease the water crisis in his own state.
The Valley water crisis has spread throughout the state, since many other areas depend on the Sierra Nevada snowpack for their water. Statewide water restrictions have been approved, including limits on personal indoor water use, restrictions on watering lawns and driveways, and even rules on washing cars.
Yet outside the San Joaquin Valley, Californians don’t seem particularly upset by the crisis or by their own governor’s pitiless determination to ensure it continues. The plight of their fellow Californians in the Valley, the water restrictions, the jeopardy to their own cities’ water supply, and the specter of major reductions to their food supply haven’t been enough for voters to demand change and impose accountability on their representatives.
How is this possible? Having spent years talking about this issue with Californians from all walks of life, I know the answer: after being relentlessly fed socialist propaganda without any opposing views, many people simply don’t know the real causes or consequences of the crisis.
California socialists, and the media that represents them, have a low opinion of farmers. In the media’s presentation, farmers are either ignorant cowboys with boots, hats, and guns, or somewhat contradictorily, are rich corporate shills—part of the nefarious “Big Agriculture” conglomerate—who are greedily using up all the state’s water. The radical environmentalists, naturally, are noble activists fighting for a selfless cause.
The media often ascribes the overall problem to drought or global warming, neither of which are true. The irrigation system was designed to withstand five years of drought by capturing water in wet years and storing it for use in dry ones. The problem is that the government is preventing us from using the system to full capacity, and it’s politically impossible to get new storage projects approved.
The media also darkly warns of various environmental catastrophes if more water is diverted back to human use. What they don’t mention is that 80 percent of the water from the Sierra Nevada snowpack is dumped into the Pacific Ocean, but if that number were merely reduced to 75 percent, there would be plenty of water for everyone—farmers, cities, and the environment. The need for drastic water restrictions is being entirely manufactured. There is no actual water shortage—in fact, with proper use of the irrigation system, there is far more water available than we need.
I’ve spent years going up and down California trying to inform anyone who will listen about the true causes of the water crisis. But it’s an uphill battle—it’s tough for one person to reach millions of citizens who are bombarded, day in and day out, with disinformation. With a propaganda campaign that’s sustained long enough, and supported by enough activists, media figures, and resources, people’s minds can be poisoned to the point that they’ll willingly go along as their own state is systematically and deliberately deprived of water. If you tell a lie enough times with enough conviction and block out the truth, a lot of people will believe you because they just don’t have any other information to challenge the propaganda.
The disinformation campaign is so overwhelming that many Californians don’t even realize they really live in a desert. In fact, without Sierra Nevada water, the Los Angeles water supply would reach a critically low level in a few months and San Francisco would encounter the same disaster in less than a month. Yes, you heard that right—socialist activists in L.A. and San Francisco are attacking and constricting the very water supply that sustains their own communities.
Devin Nunes is a Member of Congress representing California’s 22nd District, located in the San Joaquin Valley. He is the author of 'Countdown to Socialism' (Encounter Books, 2020).